Monday, June 22, 2009

Mapping the Arab Blogosphere

Last week, I was invited to participate in an event on Arab Blogging held by the US Institute of Peace and Harvard's Berkman Center on Internet & Society: “Online Discourse in the Arab World: Dispelling the Myths,”

The panel discussed a report just issued by the center: Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere: Politics, Culture, and Dissent

The case study was part of a series of studies produced by the Internet & Democracy Project, a research initiative at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, which investigates the impact of the Internet on civic engagement and democratic processes.

THe study identified a base network of approximately 35,000 active Arab blogs (about half as many as the the Persian blogosphere in their former study), created a network map of the 6,000 most connected blogs, and with a team of Arabic speakers hand coded 4,000 blogs.

Interestingly, Palestinian blogs signalled relatively low on the radar; it appears there bridge bloggers and social networking sites or online forums figure more prominently.

Among the interesting Key findings:

1) the Arab Blogosphere is mainly a country-based networkkas opposed to political ideologies and topical issues, such as reformist and conservative politics, religion, poetry, etc.

2) Arabic bloggers are predominately young and male. The highest proportion of female bloggers is found in the Egyptian youth sub-cluster, while the Syrian and Muslim Brotherhood clusters have the highest concentration of males.

so I am proud to say I represent the "old" (ok, 31, not so old) and female contingent! which interestingly seems to be predominant in Palstine.

3)Personal Life and Local Issues are Most Important

4) YouTube: Arabic bloggers tend to prefer politically oriented YouTube videos to cultural ones. Videos related to the conflict in Gaza and the throwing of shoes at George Bush in Iraq are popular across the entire blogosphere, while clips related to domestic political issues are linked to more heavily by the various national clusters.

5)Anonymity: Arabic bloggers are more likely than not to use their name when blogging, as opposed to writing anonymously or using an obvious pseudonym. However, female bloggers are more likely to blog anonymously than males.

6) Human Rights and Culture: Human rights is also a popular topic of conversation across the Arabic blogosphere—much more common than criticism of Western culture and values. Among cultural topics, poetry, literature and art are more discussed than pop culture (music, TV, movies).

7)Arabic Media Ecosystem: Bloggers link to Web 2.0 sites such as YouTube and Wikipedia (both English and Arabic versions) more than other sources of information and news available on the Internet. Al-Jazeera is the top mainstream media source, followed by the BBC and Al-Arabiya, while US-government funded media outlets like Radio Sawa and Al-Hurra are linked to relatively infrequently.

The full report can be found here:


Blogger Becky said...

That is very interesting!!! I suppose that is true about people using there real names - even with other online things I am always surprised when my husband's family will use their names where I probably wouldn't :)
It reminds me - when my husband came to the US, he thought it was so odd how 'scared' we are (as Americans) of our police. As in, we watch for them and make sure to do things to 'the t' when they are around. He grew up in KSA (not Saudi) and never felt so scared of the police like we do.
Do you think that sort of relationship may be some of the reasoning behind using your name? Or that people feel they know the 'limit' and/or can back up what they write with more examples/family?

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this.
It just gave me new insight on the US Institute of Peace!
These might be ridiculous questions to ask, but what trends have you noticed among the older set of bloggers (over 30) and how do they relate to the younger subset?

7:15 AM  

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